I am Vlada and I am reading MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies at Lady Margaret Hall. My research focus in Oxford is dedicated to the Surrogacy and Kinship in China, as well as Gender and LGBTQ+ studies. I am campaigning for Oxford SU President position.
Oxford Student Union is a Student Union led by students and for students. SU is trying to make the life of students better and negotiate with the Oxford University on behalf of the students. This SU President By-election campaign following the resignation of the President-elect earlier this year, and I decided to run for the Presidency to use my experience to improve the life of Oxford students. Before coming to Oxford, I lived and studied in China, Germany, Finland, and Russia and was organising international events for students worldwide, actively engaging in the life of the student cohort and was a volunteer in sport, art and university events worldwide.
Being the Lady Margaret Hall MCR President during the pandemic gave me an understanding of many aspects that could be improved such as mental health, equality, safety, and extracurricular activities. I was fortunate to have an amazing MCR Exec team with whom we organised online and in-person events for MCR students. It made me extremely happy to see that even during this world crisis we still could do something to bring a little bit of joy in the life of LMH students. For example, we arranged punting, an Easter egg hunt, study snacks, Eid Mubarak celebrations, weekly yoga classes and welfare teas – over the last couple month.
I came to Oxford from the unconventional background myself, and I suffered a lot from the “imposter syndrome” during the first month at uni. I really struggled to get help and support from college and university, because I feel the capacity of mental health services isn’t enough for all students and also seeking for help is still stigmatised in society. That’s why the main focus on my campaign is mental health and wellbeing of Oxford students. For example, I think that it is important to have a MH line that would work outside of the term time and create a Special Safety Nightline for everyone who doesn’t feel comfortable getting back home late.
Another issue that I think that Oxford SU need to focus more about is equality and inclusivity. Creating the manifesto, I tried to think about the diversity of the Oxford cohort and be as inclusive as possible focusing my attention on those students who might need help the most. For example, as a disabled student, I understand how it is sometimes frustrating when you don’t have as much choice of activities as student without disabilities. That’s why I want to make sure that sport options in the university is more diverse and accessible for students.
I think that SU needs to improve access to the clubs and societies because the university experience should not be a constant studying, but also a place where you can explore and do something that you are passionate about or find some new hobbies. Also, clubs and societies are amazing places to find new friends, that will stay with you for life.
I am running for the Presidency because I want to be an example for people who have difficulties in their life that you should never give up and always follow your passion. Five years ago, when I was suffering a lot from pain after numerous back surgeries, I didn’t think that I would be where I am right now. And if my example would inspire someone to apply to Oxford, run for the MCR Presidency or for SU Presidency next year, I would be happy about it.
Vote here: https://www.oxfordsu.org/by-election/